Wild Bees for Research: an Agroscope semi-field experiment
It has been estimated that wild bees contribute to crop pollination as much as honey bees. Moreover, as pollinators of wild plants, wild bees are essential for the maintenance of functioning of ecosystems.
A PoshBee experiment, led by a team from Agroscope, aims to track whether wild bees that are well nourished can better cope with stressors such as plant protection products.
"For us to effectively protect and promote bees and their crucial pollination services, it’s important to understand what stress factors they are exposed to", says Matthias Albrecht, the leader of the Agroscope experiment.
For the purpose of the experiment, marked bees are released into 33 large flight cages. The cages are cropped with entirely different plant species that differ in terms of their nutrient content and pollen composition. The scientists aim to find out whether an enhanced quality and diversity of floral diets can improve the bees’ ability to cope with exposition to plant protection products.
The experiment measures the nesting and foraging behavior of bees, as plant protection products can impair bees’ orientation and memory. It also focuses on assessing reproductive success and fitness of nesting female bees as a key factor determining population dynamics in solitary wild bees.
Initial results from previous semi-field experiments performed by the Agroscope team of multiple plant protection products on wild bees indicate that certain products are mutually reinforcing in their negative effects on wild bees. This knowledge could be helpful in terms of development of improved risk assessment for bees.